National

The top domestic news stories of 2017

The Japan Times newsroom selected the following domestic news stories as the most important of 2017.

Blast threat: An intermediate-range ballistic missile test is conducted by North Korea on May 14.
Blast threat: An intermediate-range ballistic missile test is conducted by North Korea on May 14. | KNS / VIA KYODO

1. The tension builds: North Korea launched a spate of ballistic missiles, including two that flew over Hokkaido, as the reclusive state swapped barbs with the United States. The threat to Japan prompted many municipalities to hold their first-ever evacuation drills in preparation for a possible attack.


Batting a thousand: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe takes a swing in a meeting with members of the Tokyo Kitasuna baseball team at his office in Tokyo on Dec. 11. The baseball team visited Abe after winning the Little League World Series title in August. The prime minister saw a big win this year in the October general election. His ruiling coalition won more than two-thirds of the seats in the Lower House.
Batting a thousand: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe takes a swing in a meeting with members of the Tokyo Kitasuna baseball team at his office in Tokyo on Dec. 11. The baseball team visited Abe after winning the Little League World Series title in August. The prime minister saw a big win this year in the October general election. His ruling coalition won more than two-thirds of the seats in the Lower House. | KYODO

2. Abe wins: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition won by a landslide in October’s general election, securing more than two-thirds of the seats in the Lower House. Abe’s fifth straight triumph in the national poll raised the 63-year-old’s chances of winning a third term as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party.


Not impressed: Protesters demand Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Not impressed: Protesters demand Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resignation in July amid allegations that he used his influence to sway the approval process for a new veterinary department at a university run by Kake Educational Institution, chaired by his friend, in a special economic zone. | KYODO

3. Kake and Moritomo: Cronyism scandals involving the Okayama-based Kake Gakuen school run by Abe’s friend and a highly discounted sale of state land to Moritomo Gakuen, a school operator once linked to Abe’s wife, rocked the administration and eroded the Cabinet’s support rate.


Conspiracy theory: Lawamakers vote on a conspiracy bill during an Upper House plenary session in June.
Conspiracy theory: Lawamakers vote on a conspiracy bill during an Upper House plenary session in June. | KYODO

4. Conspiracies everywhere: The prime minister’s ruling coalition rammed a contentious conspiracy bill through the Diet on June 15 amid staunch criticism that the law could curtail privacy and free speech rights. A total of 277 acts are subject to the revised anti-organized crime law, including copyright infringement and digging up graves.


Horrifying: The apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, where nine bodies were found on Nov. 29.
Horrifying: The apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, where nine bodies were found on Nov. 29. | KYODO

5. House of horrors: A total of nine dismembered bodies were discovered in October in a 27-year-old man’s apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture. The suspect, Takahiro Shiraishi, told investigators that he lured his victims — who posted their wishes to commit suicide on Twitter — by offering to help them take their own lives.


The royal wave: The Imperial Family wave to well-wishers during their traditional New Year
The royal wave: The Imperial Family wave to well-wishers during their traditional New Year’s greetings at the Imperial Palace. | KYODO

6. Retirement plans: In response to Emperor Akihito’s wishes, the Diet enacted a one-time law in June to allow him to hand over the Chrysanthemum Throne to Crown Prince Naruhito. The official date of the Emperor’s abdication is set for April 30, 2019.


The good place: Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is cheerful after an election win in July.
The good place: Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is cheerful after an election win in July. | KYODO

7. The rise and fall of Yuriko Koike: Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First), a regional party, scored a sweeping victory dethroning the Liberal Democratic Party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July. Riding the momentum, Koike attempted to challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP-Komeito coalition with her national party, Kibo no To, in the Lower House election in October but suffered a stinging defeat.


All you can eat: U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe feed carp in a pond at the Akasaka Palace state guesthouse in Tokyo in November. This image went viral as many online pointed out you shouldn
All you can eat: U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe feed carp in a pond at the Akasaka Palace state guesthouse in Tokyo in November. This image went viral as many online pointed out you shouldn’t feed carp so much food in one go, but it was later learned that the U.S. president was just following the lead of his host. | KYODO

8. Trump comes to town: U.S. President Donald Trump visited Tokyo in November for the first time since his inauguration in January. In summit talks, he and Abe agreed to take a hard-line approach to North Korea. During his two-day visit, Trump also met with family members of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents.


Nature
Nature’s fury: A man in Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture, prays for the victims of torrential rains that slammed Kyushu. The July storms triggered deadly floods and landslides across the north of the island. | KYODO

9. Kyushu deluge: Torrential rain in early July caused landslides and floods in northern Kyushu’s Fukuoka and Oita prefectures. The flooding killed just under 40 people and destroyed hundreds of homes.


Wedding bells: Princess Mako and Kei Komuro announce their engagement at a press conference in September.
Wedding bells: Princess Mako and Kei Komuro announce their engagement at a press conference in September. | KYODO

10. Save the date: The Imperial Household Agency formally announced the planned engagement of Princess Mako to her longtime boyfriend Kei Komuro on Sept. 3. The wedding ceremony of the eldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko is scheduled for Nov. 4 next year.